From school reports



RAYMOND – The reigning two-time national champion Lions of East Mississippi Community College had their 17-game winning streak snapped by dropping a 24-16 road decision to the Hinds Eagles during Thursday night’s season-opener.

The game’s initial score came on a 22-yard field goal by Hinds kicker Carson Flumm at the 11:38 mark after EMCC transfer quarterback Connor Neville’s first pass attempt in nearly three years was picked off by Jonathan Jordan on the second play from scrimmage.

  Midway through the opening quarter, the lead changed hands twice within 19 seconds.  The visiting Lions got on the scoreboard at the 8:08 mark when Neville and sophomore receiver Jason Brownlee connected on a 28-yard catch-and-run to cap a 10-play, 70-yard scoring drive.  EMCC’s subsequent point-after-touchdown attempt was blocked following a low, muffed snap from center.

On the ensuing kickoff, Hinds’ Jakarius Caston bolted 97 yards to the end zone to put the Eagles back on top, 10-6, with 7:49 remaining to play in the quarter.

In the third scoring change of the quarter, the Lions put together another 10-play scoring drive (67 yards) that was capped by Neville’s 18-yard scoring strike to Jontarius Henderson at the 4:18 mark.  EMCC then had an opportunity to increase the lead during the final minute of the half, but sophomore running back Keon Moore lost the handle of the football as he was crossing the goal line from 18 yards out.  The Eagles recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchback to keep EMCC’s narrow lead at 13-10 heading into intermission.

East Mississippi’s defense set up the initial score coming out of the halftime break.  Sophomore defensive end Terence Cherry punched the ball out of Hinds quarterback Elijah Walker’s throwing hand during a scramble and the fumble was recovered by Deuntra Hyman at the 21-yard line.  The Lions later converted the miscue into a 27-yard field by sophomore Josh Smith to increase their lead to 16-10 with 10:43 remaining in the third quarter.

After EMCC couldn’t take advantage of Shavoke’ Herrington’s drive-ending interception of Walker’s pass in the end zone, the Eagles had an 11-play, 39-yard scoring drive that featured eight consecutive carries by Don Ragsdale.  The sophomore running back ultimately dove over from a yard out on the first play of the final quarter.  Flumm’s successful PAT put Hinds back in front, 17-16.

With both teams’ defenses stepping up during crunch time, EMCC and Hinds traded punts during the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.  The Lions then briefly grabbed the momentum later in the quarter by following a 6-yard combo sack by Cherry and Julius Coates with a pass interception by Kentavious McMillian within the red zone.

EMCC’s resulting drive started well with a 47-yard pass completion into Hinds territory from Neville to sophomore wide receiver Rashad Eades.  Five plays later on first down from the 26-yard line, Neville threw his third pass interception of the evening when Hinds’ DeMario Nichols stepped in front of a would-be EMCC receiver and sprinted 83 yards for the game-clinching touchdown with 2:33 remaining in the contest.

Despite the quick momentum change, the visitors still had two minutes and change remaining in regulation to possibly overcome the one-possession deficit.